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Officers' Quarters: Account sharing + officer = bad

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

I've covered account sharing before. I gave some details about Blizzard's policies on it and how it could affect your guild. This week, I received an e-mail from someone who found out that an officer of the guild he was applying to shared the account with his girlfriend. He's wondering if he may have overreacted to the situation.

Hello Scott

I have a question about guild relations (both as part of leadership and as a member) with regard to people sharing account info.

I've always had a very strict stance on account sharing, driven by three concerns: it's against the ToS, it opens up guilds to things like guild bank theft, and it breaks the idea that when I whisper a character, I know who I'm talking to (or at least that it's the same entity from session to session).

In my relations with guilds, this had lead to considerable friction with other people. As an officer, if I ever see account sharing going on on a member who has access to our guild bank, I demote them and all their alts to a rank without such access. When I talk with the other officers about this, they typically don't see the issue. In some cases, I've found out that other officers have shared account info themselves, between siblings or friends, and don't see it as an issue.
My guild recently broke up, and when I applied to a new one, the first time I contacted the recruiting officer of a guild that I'd applied to, I received a whisper back saying that it was his girlfriend playing his character, and could I please whisper back later when he'd be on himself. I immediately withdrew my application from the guild.

Am I overreacting here? I describe myself as being strongly principled, and I really don't want to play the game with people who think it's OK to selectively ignore parts of contracts because they don't agree with them. But it seems like by taking this position, I'm in the minority and locking myself out of opportunities that I am otherwise qualified for.

Do you have any advice on this?

To put it bluntly: No, you didn't overreact. Principles aside, an officer sharing an account is a terrible idea. Officer characters typically have access to every item in a guild's bank, the power to invite or kick any member besides themselves, and the trust of other officers and members.

Say one day his girlfriend gets angry at him. He's not home. She has his account information. She could single-handedly dismantle and/or destroy the entire guild in less than an hour. At first, she could pretend to be him and say vicious things to people or use their trust to "borrow" valuable items. She could cause a ruckus on the server by spamming something idiotic or offensive in Dalaran, dragging down the reputation of both her boyfriend's character and his guild. Then she could just start booting everyone or taking everything from the bank and trashing it.

An officer can't kick or demote another officer. That's good because she couldn't kick them, but it's bad because they can't kick her. If the guild leader isn't online, no one can stop her. Good luck getting a game master to intervene before the damage is done.

Who wants to be part of a guild where that's a looming possibility? Girlfriend/boyfriend account sharing is probably the worst type, because those kinds of relationships can change drastically in an instant.

An account sharing situation recently came up in my own guild. It's a good example of how it can mess up your WoW life, even for a nonofficer.

For about a year or so, three real-life friends were all members of my guild. One member quit the game. His two friends got angry with the guild (for a completely unrelated reason) and quit the guild. They had access to the third friend's account, and they pulled his toon as well.

The third friend decided to start playing again and asked if we could reinvite his toon. My officers and I had nothing against him and agreed to take him back. We just had one condition: He had to be the only one with account access.

He seemed somewhat surprised by this request. He considered it a perfectly normal thing to do and said that surely I must share my account with other officers. I told him that would be a very risky thing to do in my situation and that I was the only one with access.

After thinking it over for a day, he said no. His reason was because his friends had done a lot for his account and he didn't feel right about denying them access to it. I respect his honesty to me. He could have just lied and gotten the invite anyway. I also respect his loyalty to his friends. Still, I am annoyed that an account sharing situation has cost us a good member.

The bottom line is this: You have no control over what someone else does with your account. They may be the love of your life or your best friend, but relationships can change. People can, too. People can also make mistakes. A problem may not even directly involve you, as was the case with my former member, and it can still have a huge affect on your characters, your guild, or your reputation in the community. The consequences only get magnified when you have special guild permissions and access.

It's hard to say who's in the minority. There's probably a lot more account sharing than people acknowledge. I just know that if I found out any of my officers were sharing their account -- particularly with a nonofficer -- they wouldn't be officers anymore.

/salute

Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at scott.andrews@weblogsinc.com. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters! For more WoW Insider gameplay columns, click here.

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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